Nothin’ wakes you up like a run in the morning — dominating the Juana Run 8k

One of our 50 goals for 2009 is to run more street races (and one is to run a marathon before we’re married) and like we posted a couple weeks ago, a huge first step to achieve this particular goal was registering for the Juana Run 8k (~5 miles) here in beautiful Palo Alto, CA.

Well, we ran the 8k bright and and early this morning and had a lot of fun doing it. Also, we both surprised ourselves in how well we finished. Stephanie was hoping to finish under 40 minutes, which she pulled off easy by crossing the finish line just under 37 minutes. That’s under 7:30 minute miles, which is awesome! Me, on the other hand, I somehow finished with the clock ticking just over 30 minutes, which means that I ran basically 6:00 minute miles for the entire thing. Not sure how I did that, but God somehow put it in me to kick these legs fast enough and long enough to do it. Wow.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a video, so I decided to put a little somethin’ sometin’ together — you can watch it below or over on YouTube.

The first set of A-MA-ZING engagement pics and win a free 4-hour photo session with my main man Henry!

I told all of you about how Stephanie and I met Henry Sun and how he has quickly become a blessing in our lives for so many reasons. Well, Henry runs {H} creatives, which is his photography business that he’s just started to really ramp up here lately. A couple of weeks ago Stephanie and I were lucky enough to snag Henry for a day of engagement photo awesomeness up in San Francisco. To our excitement, he had us over for dinner (again) last night so that he could give us copies of all the shots that we liked the best after we went through each of the 2,000+ that he shot that day.


Henry hooked us up with framed versions of his two favorites

We were so pumped when Henry handed over the CDs that were packed full of our engagement photo fun and we were SUPER pumped when he gave us his two favorite images in ridiculously beautiful frames. Talk about going above and beyond what we ever expected — Stephanie liked one of them so much that she actually started crying when she first looked at it. The two photos that he chose to frame are so incredible that they’re almost surreal. Henry is the man, for sure.


We kicked off the photo-shooting fun in the Haight-Ashbury district

So, now that we have all of our engagement photos in hand, we’re going to post them over the next few days in the same order that we shot them during the day-long photo shoot of aweosmeness that we had with Henry. The first spot that we hit up first was the colorful and eclectic Haight-Ashbury district up in San Francisco. This was a nice warm-up for the rest of what ended up being over 7 hours of shooting and it was a great way to kick off the day. To see the shots from our first stop in the Haight, check ‘em out over on Henry’s Facebook Fan Page.

Some of the highlights from this location are:

Also, I’ve somehow talked Henry into giving away a free 4-hour photo shoot (in SF Bay Area only) with him to one of his Facebook fans after we get done posting each of our engagement photo sets. So, be sure to join his {H} creatives Fan Club so that you can get some sweet photos just like we did!

New photos from the next location coming soon —

Passing along some inspiration to a friend with a Love Dare

I’m on the train, so I’ll have to make this quick…

Last night Stephanie and I went to a couple’s session at our church (mark another one up for 2009 Goal #2!) that was led by two amazing people named Drs. Paul and Virgina Frieson. They run an organization called Home Improvement Ministries, have been married for 30+ years and have their faith situated smack-dab in the middle of the incredible relationship that they have together. They are truly inspirational and Stephanie and I, along with the other 100+ couples that showed up last night for the 2-hour event, were blessed to have them share their experiences with us.

(I’m now off the train and sitting on a bench in the SF station so that I can finish this…)

Me, my laptop and some currazy hair at the SF Caltrain station

Anyways, the couple’s session was all about keeping fire in your relationship and what it takes from both a man’s and a woman’s perspective to keep a marriage moving along the path that God had in mind when He created all of us fine-looking, loving yet somewhat selfish people. Paul and Virginia went through 10 main themes to not just remember, but to act on when in a marriage and as they went through each one they seamlessly tied each back to experiences that they’ve had and to scriptures that are written in the Bible. It was refreshing, entertaining and challenging all at the same time and it was a great way for Stephanie and I to get a jump start on some of the things that we will need to focus on once we take the walk down the aisle on August 29th — not to mention that many of the themes that we were walked through apply to our relationship right now. Good stuff.

At the end of the session there was a church-wide challenge for all of the couple’s to go through a 40-day journey called The Love Dare, which is a book that was created as a way to keep marriage (and other relationships) strong and on the path that God intended. The book is a part of the movie Fireproof, which I actually haven’t seen yet, but plan to see tomorrow at our church. Fireproof is all about a married couple who’s relationship is on the rocks and gets some much needed help from their son when he gives his dad The Love Dare and tells him to go through the 40-day challenge before they officially decided to break it off. If you’re in a serious relationship I recommend that you see it — I hear that it’s very powerful and life-changing for any couple that takes the time to watch it.

(my battery is about to die and I need to go workout so I’m going to wrap this up…)

Stephanie and I have decided to challenge ourselves for the next 40 days with The Love Dare, so I was reading our first day’s challenge on the train this morning when I started talking to a new friend of mine who was sitting across from me. Well, as I have found out over the past couple months, his marriage of 20+ years has been having it’s share of struggles lately and I have been able to tell that he could probably use some help. As I was reading my copy of The Love Dare I started chatting with him and quickly decided that he could use the book as well — so, I just gave it to him a few minutes ago and challenged him to the 40-day Love Dare. I wasn’t really sure how he’d take it, but after reading through the first few pages he seemed like it was something that he was excited to follow through with.

So, here’s to my new friend, Stephanie and I following through with The Love Dare. I’ll keep you all updated on our progress, but first I guess that we need to go get a new copy of the book. :)

Wedding Ideas

Obviously, since we are within the midst of planning our wedding, we have a few decisions to make. As of now we have quite a bit of the preparations set in place. Here is a list just to get you up to date on what has been decided:

The church - Irvington Presbyterian Church
The reception site - The Rathskeller
The dress- umm definitely not posting any info on this one.. you’ll see it on Aug. 29th
The bridal party - It took awhile but we decided who was “in”
The transportation - The Chicken Limo if you know us, then you know why we have it.
The decor - I have a super sweet and amazing step-mom that is really helping me out with all of the decorations. She rules…

So that’s just a list to get things going, and next on the list is the cake. I’ve been talking back and forth with my wonderful pastry chef. My grandma set me up with her, and I’m amazed by her beautiful work. I’m thinking of having a 4-5 tier cake that is simple fondant icing with a thick green ribbon at the bottom of the tier and accented with pink flowers. I found this cake on the knot.com (my home away from home on the internet these days).

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Pay no attention to the colors, just the style. Ours will be all white or ivory fondant, then our colors of kiwi green and magenta will be accenting the cake. What do you think? I’m open to any and all suggestions… post some photos of your own if you’d like to help out!

Our first Wedding Wednesday — deciding the bridal party

With our official wedding date of August 29th coming up sooner than we would ever think (191 days according to Stephanie) and with plenty still to do, I thought that it would be a good idea to dedicate at least one night during the week to getting some of the nuptial-esque details knocked out. Well, since tonight was a Wednesday and it was going to be our first official weekly meeting I decided to call it Wedding Wednesday because let’s face it…everything’s better with a name. Anyways, I kind of miss the good ol’ Wild Wednesdays that we used to rock each week with IndyMojo, so I guess the name’s only appropriate in some sort of weird, convoluted way.

So tonight after we finished up dinner we headed over to Coupa Cafe, one of our favorite spots in Palo Alto (and home to the world’s best Chai), and shifted our brains into wedding mode. Although we had no real agenda for this first Wedding Wednesday, our goal quickly became to get a final list for our bridal party, which I’ve personally been putting off for quite a while now for some reason. I guess that it’s never much fun to have to choose between which friends make the cut when it comes to who’s going to be in the wedding and who’s not. Oh and not only that, but we also needed to figure out who is going to actually stand up with us for the wedding and who gets assigned to be an usher or on guest book assignment — which, of course, are still very, very jobs to have (I’ve been an usher like 20 times). :)


Getting our bridal list together wasn’t easy, but we had to do it…

If you haven’t guessed by now Stephanie and I have a ton of awesome friends and family in Indiana, so the choices weren’t real easy. But, after listing some people, marking a few out and adding in a few that we had somehow left out (whoops), we eventually made our final decisions and ended up with the final, official bridal party list. Once we contact each of the ‘chosen few’, we’ll post up some more details of who we’ve chosen, why we chose them and maybe even who else we were thinking about adding to the list, but didn’t (and why). We have chosen an all-star lineup to play a part in our big day together and we’re looking forward to celebrating with them as well as the rest of our friends and family on August 29th (put it on your calendars, people!).

Oh, and I guess that I should mention that these Wedding Wednesdays are a great way to work on #4 in our 50 Goals For 2009 list. Boo yah!

Mark one off the 50 Goals For 2009 list — we’re running an 8k!

Hot on the heels of posting our 50 Goals For 2009 yesterday it looks like we can already strike one off. As I was looking though the Palo Alto Weekly yesterday on the drive home from eating lunch, I noticed an ad for an 8k road race called Juana Run? that was taking place in a couple weeks. I showed Stephanie the ad and told her that we should run it as I tore it out of the paper.

Well, I get home today after work and Stephanie tells me that she just registered us both for it, which is probably why I found this in my Inbox:

So…I guess that pretty much takes care of #35, or it at least gives us a good start. :)

p.s. According to last year’s race results, Stephanie needs to run, on average, right around a 7 minute mile pace to get in the top 25 for her age group. I would have to run sub 6 minute miles…yeah, not gonna happen.

Hup and Steph’s 50 Goals For 2009

It’s mid-February and that means its time to check in on the ol’ New Year’s resolutions. Now, I’m not one for making resolutions but instead I prefer New Year’s “goals”. I think its more of an optimistic way of looking towards the new year, don’t you? So on the plane ride home from Indianapolis after our Christmas vacation, Ryan and I created a list of 50 goals that we hoped to strive for in the upcoming year. Below is our list complete with short description of what exactly each goal entails and as we reach these goals we will update the list with appropriate check marks or strike through.

Ryan and Stephanie’s Awesome Goals to Rock out 2009!!

1. Special Olympics
- back in Indy we coached special olympics basketball. see video here or watch it below. We’d like to get involved in some way out here as well.


2. Get involved in something in church
- merely than just going to church every Sunday we want to get involved in some kind of group Bible study or young adults group. The church that we currently go to is Peninsula Covenant Church in Redwood City.

UPDATE: Went to an awesome couple’s session at our church and met some new couples afterward.

UPDATE (1/4/10): We are now much more involved in our church and have also enjoyed getting to know other young couples who call PCC their home, too. More specifically, some of the things that we are doing include:

3. Figure out Stephanie’s next move
- find a new career path or back to school for nursing? just some options

UPDATE on (3/7/09): It looks like Stephanie might be a runway model?

4. Plan wedding
- duh we’re getting married on August 29th. better plan something
- figure out creative methods <- we of course want to make our wedding unique… how can we do that?

UPDATE: Wedding Wednesday is in full effect each week — decided final bridal party on 2/18/09
UPDATE: We got our engagement photos back from Henry on 2/27/09.

UPDATE (1/4/10): We were married on 8/29/09 and headed off to Mexico for an AMAZING honeymoon (where I lost my wedding ring after 3 days). Our wedding photos can all be seen over here on Holly and Ryan Gauper’s website if you’d like to check out just how much fun we really had (you’ll be asked to enter in your email before you can view).

5. Marathon
- we both want to train for and run a marathon within this year

UPDATE (1/4/09): Stephanie ended up running the San Francisco marathon, but unfortunately due to my shoulder surgery (I wrecked my bike), I didn’t end up running it with her. However, that didn’t stop me (and Frank) from helping her train. Check out the breakdown of her marathon times below (yeah, she rocked it):

6. Visit Megan
- my best friend, Megan (see pic below) moved to South Carolina last year and I still haven’t made it out for a visit… something must be done about that.

UPDATE: Megan is coming to visit in May for Bay To Breakers (here’s last year)!!!


Megan and Stephanie — 2 peas in a pod.

7. work on keeping in contact
- It’s so hard with a busy schedule to keep in contact with friends and family, we need to do better
- List of friends to contact
-Family on Facebook (an idea that Ryan has about getting our family on Facebook)
-More cards (we want to send more cards, like the paper kind)
-one post a day on blog (we’re doing better at this)
8. Extra source of Income ( something enjoyable)
- it’s nice to have extra money to play with.. and we also have other ambitions for our life, that we would LOVE to make a career of, we just don’t know how yet.

9. Cheer for Smitty in Hawaii
- one of our good friends, Jason Smith (see pic below) will hopefully be competing in the Iron Man Triathlon in Hawaii this year in November. We live close enough, we should definitely make it over there to see him.


Smitty is a bike-ridin machine…

10. Travel outside of the U.S.
- We have a few friends all over the world, it shouldn’t be hard to find a place to stay
-Andrea (Paris)
-Roger (Costa Rica)

11. Ryan start speaking
- He already talks, yes, a lot. We’d like for Ryan to become more involved though in what he truly enjoys doing, speaking at conferences, panels, etc.

UPDATE: Ryan spoke at the UGCX conference in San Jose in early February — check out his speaker page here.

12. Start some type of fitness training
- still not sure how we’re going to do this, but we have some ideas… it’s definitely a passion of ours

13. License and License plate
- finally we got Ryan’s license, next is the license plate

14. Get to know Homer House Better ( and Palo Alto people)
- we’ve been blessed with a great group of friends that live in a house just right down the street. We’d like to hang out with them more. Read more about the Homer House homies over here and check out the video below to see how they roll.

15. Actually see the Golden Gate Bridge
-yep, still haven’t seen it up close and personal

16. Visit Wine Country
- I’ve been dying to go since we moved here

17. Explore more of S.F.
- It’s an amazing city and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what all it holds

UPDATE: We got to check out a lot of SF while we were getting our engagement pics taken — what an awesome day.

18. Something different with blog and/or video
- Always looking for different ways to keep things fresh with our blog and videos

19. Couples’ blog group
-It would be cool to set up some sort of group of couples’ blogs

20. One Year Celebration
- we’ve been here for almost one year.. amazing let’s celebrate!

21. Get to know Kelty’s, Greg, Jocelyn better
- It’s amazing how you can live next door to people and still never see them…. busy schedules.

22. Still get out even when we’re tired ( don’t become boring!)
- our biggest fear is boredom… we want to fight it all that we can

23. Continue/get better communication ( accountability/relationship with God)
- communication is key in any relationship… continuing our growth and development of that is a very important goal

UPDATE: Both Ryan and I are dedicated to reading the Bible every day, which is definitely a step in the right direction.

24. Make sure Steph doesn’t turn into a bridezilla
- hey what can I say… it’s easy to get caught up in all of that stuff :)

25. Skydive
- no explanation necessary.. we’ve both done it in the past (see pics of us both below) and we’re ready to do it again


My hair after 160 mph.


Ryan after his wild ride in the sky

26. Ryan build relationship with TechCrunch and Arrington
- obviously a relationship with one of the biggest tech bloggers could be important. Ryan has been in TechCrunch twice already — check ‘em out here and here. We also got invited to TechCrunch’s annual Crunchies awards, which is where we met MC Hammer (see pic below). Hammer don’t hurt ‘em.


Ryan, Hammer, Me.

27. Continue to be consistent with workouts
- it’s hard to make time to workout, but obviously it’s more than beneficial

UPDATE: Ryan has been consistently working out in the mornings now and I’ve been hitting the gym after work — boo yah!

28. Get Frank
- another goal that holds no explanation… I. MUST. GET. A. DOG. See what Frank will look like below.


Yep, Frank’s a Pug…duh.

UPDATE: We got Frank!!!!

29. hiking/mountain climbing
- we live within one hour of any form of outdoor activity you could imagine.. we need to take advantage of it. We have checked out Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which was cool, but we want to do more!

30. Learn to surf
- see previous goal

31. learn Spanish
- living around this area you see what the rest of the world will be like in a few years.. learn Spanish now

32. Ryan work on Anxiety stuff and Steph too
- It’s hard not to let yourself get worked up when you lead such hectic lives. Ryan has been dealing with some crazy anxiety issues since leaving Indy — I guess that’s what going 24/7 with no sleep does to you. He’s definitely getting better though, which is awesome. I just need to not let all of those preschoolers get to me!

33. Make a budget (for life and wedding)
- it would probably be good to try to stick to a budget rather than live frivolously

UPDATE: Both Ryan and I have both made budgets and have started to spend less money on things like eating out, etc. so that we can get everything paid off as quickly as possible. It’s been great for us and hopefully something that we apply to everything else in our lives.

34. Random acts of kindness
- one of my greatest joys is doing something for someone.

UPDATE: Ryan just made a video for our buddy Bobby, which is pretty cool.

35. run road races
- they’re a great way to increase your level of fitness all while having fun

UPDATE (2/17/09): Looks like we’re running an 8k!.

UPDATE (3/1/09): We ran the Juana Run 8k and we killed it!

Kids, don’t try this at home — we’re professionals

36. Be on time and planning
- it’s a struggle but very important

37. Keeping our house neat
- again, it’s a struggle, and living in such a small place can make this even more difficult. As of now, out place it spotless!

38. Getting the most out of our weekends
- it’s our time to shine… we need to experience all that CA has to offer whenever we get the chance

39. Bubblezzzzz
- ummm i like bubble baths.. i wish i had a jacuzzi tub… maybe when we move

40. Meet more non-tech people
- somewhat of a struggle to do so out here in Silicon Valley, but I need to meet some more people that don’t understand what HTML and SEO stand for

UPDATE on 3/7/09: We met Matt and Christen at church and had an awesome dinner with them — they rule!

Matt and Christen are not techy, but they’re definitely awesome /p>

41. Stephanie more planning for events
- Ryan does a lot of the planning of what we do, it’d be good for me to think of some things as well

42. Go to sporting event
- there are a lot of great professional teams in or area.. we should go to some games

43. Paint the cottage
- I hate white walls

44. NEW COUCH
- it’s impossible for two people to relax comfortably on our current couch

45. Steph learn to make videos
- It would be fun to put a piece of my own flare into our videos

46. Get all doctor/dentist/eyedoctor appt. taken care of (glasses, contacts)
- we’ve waited too long to get all of this stuff done and out of the way

UPDATE: Ryan got contacts and I finally got some new ones!

47. Ryan attend more tech conferences
- He needs to fulfill his need for tech

48. Start fun fund
- my idea of a savings account.. put away money for fun random stuff

49. Bring people out for Bay to Breakers
- the single most amazing day in San Francisco every year.. people must come to see this. This was one of the first things that we did when we first arrived in California and it was amazing.

50. Visit San Diego
- several of my really good friends now live in San Diego.. it’s a shame I don’t go down there more often

Wow, that’s quite a list! It’s great though to write them out to keep them fresh on your mind, and it’s funny how after just a month and a half of writing out these goals, I could easily think of 50 more that we could work on. We should probably stick to accomplishing these first. :)

1800Flowers pretty much sucks, but UPS rules. A near Valentine’s Day fail.

Usually this blog is all about happy, exciting and all around warm ‘n fuzzy stuff and I’m not one to openly complain, but after narrowly escaping a Valentine’s Day disaster yesterday I thought that I would talk about a not-so awesome experience that I had with 1800Flowers.com. It almost got ugly.

Background of the Situation
A few days ago I had made a note to get Stephanie a present for Valentine’s Day and I decided to get her some flowers, which I thought was a pretty solid choice. Now, I work up in San Francisco and Stephanie works in Palo Alto, so I don’t really have a way to get her flowers from Palo Alto during the week, so I decided to check out 1800Flowers.com. I figured that I could order her some flowers from there and have them delivered to her school on Friday, which would be the day before Valentine’s Day. It would be a great way for her to start her Friday, would brighten up her day and would be a romantically wonderful way to kick of the extended Valentine’s Day weekend. I found the perfect flowers to send (see pic below), made the order and even found a 15% coupon code — boo yah! The total for the flowers was a little over $40 including shipping.


Beautiful flowers for a beautiful fiancee’…perfect.

As a special touch I added a poem to the card that would be sent with the delivery and I had to get pretty creative considering that they only allow you to use 250 characters. Here’s what I came up with:

ROSES ARE RED, VIOLETS ARE BLUE, GETTING FLOWERS IS MUCH BETTER THAN CLEANING UP POO. I REALLY LOVE YOU, YOU REALLY LOVE ME, PLEASE TELL YOUR KIDS THAT ONLY BOYS STAND UP TO PEE. I LOVE YOU, BABY! -YOUR FIANCE’

Oh, I even got a UPS tracking number so that I could see when it was delivered to Stephanie’s school. In my mind, this was going to go off without a hitch. I mean, the Internet always works, right?

Wrong.

The Valentine’s Day Exception
For once in my life I was actually thinking ahead, I had the flowers orders by Wednesday night and they were scheduled to be delivered bright and early on Friday morning to Stephanie’s school. Stephanie had no clue that the flowers were on their way and the plan was shaping up perfectly. I could already see it all playing out in my head:

  1. Stephanie would get to work in the morning and would suspect nothing
  2. A few minutes after the class kicked off there would be a knock at her classroom door — it seems that there’s a package for her (and they think it’s flowers!)
  3. She’d excitedly go and see what was delivered, while the rest of the teachers at her school wished that they had been sent some flowers, too
  4. The flowers would be opened and soon after I would receive a text from Stephanie saying how much she loves them (and how much she loves me)
  5. KA-BAMM! The Valentine’s Day weekend gets kicked off with a bang — nice work all around and big points for the fiance’

Like I said, this all was playing out in my head at the time. What can I say, it’s how I roll.

With all of this in my head I rolled into workout on Friday morning in San Francisco and was hoping that by the time I was finished there would be an ‘I got your flowers, baby!!!’ text waiting for me on my phone. Well, to my disappointment there was no such message and as I headed into work I thought that maybe it was just going to be delivered later on in the morning. No big deal and no reason to worry.

But, as I jumped online and hit up the UPS tracking system something didn’t look right.

As opposed to the ‘Delivered’ or ‘Almost Delivered’ status that I expected to see, I saw the word ‘Exception’. It was mocking me and staring me in the face almost as a way to say ‘No delivery for you!’. As I rolled over the little question mark for more information it told me something like ‘If you see this, your stuff didn’t get delivered — see tracking below for more info’. I did just what it said and just when I thought that this couldn’t get any worse I saw this written in the delivery tracking:

This is when I started to worry, as I remembered seeing something over on the 1800Flowers.com site that said:

Do you deliver to schools?
For security reasons, many schools do not allow flower deliveries. If you place an order for delivery to a school, we can attempt the delivery however, we cannot guarantee the school will permit the florist to complete it.

Even though I saw this before I had the flowers delivered I thought that there would be no problems delivering to Stephanie’s school. It’s not that big, there are literally only like 20 teachers that work there and every single one of them knows who Stephanie is. I figured that as long as the UPS guy could find the school (which I mentioned specifically in the address), I assumed there would be no problems getting the flowers to her. Well, apparently I assumed wrong and something got screwed up. As I began thinking about what all could have went wrong and how my Valentine had ended up flowerless I figured that the only way to get to the bottom of it all was to jump on the phone and do it the old fashioned way. Yes, my friends, it was time to call up some customer service hotlines.

This is when it began to get pretty interesting and when I found out how 1800Flowers.com and UPS operate from a customer service standpoint. Keep on reading to see how each of them dealt with my Valentine’s Day delivery disaster.

Calling 1800Flowers.com - A Lost Cause
The time was getting to be around 11:30am or so and I figured that I should probably go straight to the source to see if I could get to the bottom of what had happened to Stephanie’s flowers. It only took me a few seconds to find a number to call for 1800Flowers customer support. In their help section they not only listed the phone number, but they also had a nice guide to let you know what numbers take you to where once you’re connected. I thought that this was a nice touch and is something that is super easy to add to any website.

For Customer Service, call 1-800-716-4851.

* Press 1 for assistance with using this website
* Press 2 to place a new order by phone
* Press 3 to check the status of an existing order. Please have your order confirmation number ready. (Note that the online order tracking form will always have the most up-to-date information).
* Press 4 if you do not know your order number or have any other questions regarding your order.

I had to press ‘4′ due to the fact that I had already erased all of the order confirmation emails that they sent me from both my laptop and my Blackberry to ensure that the surprise wasn’t accidentally ruined by leaving my email open. Not that Stephanie looks at my email all of the time, but we share laptops and we have the same type of Blackberry, so I can never be too careful. :)

I was quickly put on the phone with a nice woman who worked in their customer service department and I began to tell her about how my Valentine’s Day flowers weren’t delivered at my fiancee’s school and I had no clue why. She explained to me that a lot of times the flowers get denied by schools due to safety issues (allergies or terrorism?) and that if they get denied delivery then there’s nothing they can do about it. The woman also said that once a delivery of flowers was denied, they would be shipped back to wherever they came from, which I think is in Florida or something. This didn’t sit with me right for some reason and I continued to ask some questions to see what the deal was.

Me: So let me get this straight — if the flowers are denied delivery, then basically they get sent back to some warehouse and I have no way of getting them back even though I paid like $40 bucks for them?

1800Flowers Lady: Yep, that’s correct. Even if we could get them back to you, they’d be dead because the flowers don’t last more than a day or so when they’re shipped.

Me: Is there any way for them to be re-routed to my home address, which is a few miles from the school?

1800Flowers Lady: No, there’s no way to re-route them and like I said they’re already on their way back to our warehouse and there’s no way to change that.

Me: Hmmmm….that really sucks, doesn’t it? What if I repay the shipping, can you resend out the same thing to a new address? Any way to get another one sent out without me paying another $40 or $50 bucks? There just seems that there has to be a better way to handle this.

1800Flowers Lady: We clearly state that we hold no responsibility if a delivery gets denied — it’s on the website.

Me: Yeah, well, this really sucks…there’s no way to get a refund or to see where the package is at right now? Also, the flowers were being delivered with a vase — is there any way to get our hands on that even though the flowers will be dead?

1800Flowers Lady: No, there isn’t…can you hold for a second, please? I’m going to go talk to my manager about all of this.

[4-5 minutes on hold]

1800Flowers Lady: I’m sorry sir, like I said, there’s no way to re-route the flowers and we can not offer you a refund. However, my manager told me that we can offer 20% off if you’d like to order something new.

Me: Ummm…no thanks, I don’t want to order anything new and it wouldn’t be delivered the way (for Valentine’s Day) that I wanted it to be anyways. So, yeah, I guess that you’ve answered everything that I needed.

1800Flowers Lady: OK, is there anything else that I can help you with today, sir?

Me: Nope, that’s it — thanks for your help.

1800Flowers Lady: Have a great day sir and thanks for calling 1800Flowers.

[click]

At this point I was getting pretty upset and it was now my life’s mission to find these flowers any way that I could. I also started to wonder why someone at Stephanie’s school would ever deny delivery of flowers that were addressed to her. I just couldn’t see that happening.

So, when Stephanie called me around 1:45pm I had to ruin the surprise and tell her that I had tried to send her flowers, but for some reason someone at her school had denied their delivery around 9:45am earlier that morning. She said that there was no possible way that anyone would do that at her school — especially on Valentine’s Day. After we hung up she asked around and called me back to confirm that they would never deny delivery of flowers, so the school wasn’t the problem.

At this point this whole thing had almost become a big game and I was bound and determined to somehow get it all figured out. Since 1800Flowers offered no help at all and honestly had gotten me even more upset due to the way that they handled the situation, the only call that was left was to UPS to find out exactly what happened to the mysteriously missing Valentine’s Day flowers.

Calling UPS - The Pros Take Care of Business
After calling 1800Flowers and talking to Stephanie, UPS seemed like my only hope in recovering my current failed attempt at Valentine’s Day awesomeness. Before calling UPS I was thinking to myself, ‘UPS is like one of the biggest companies in the entire world and they are shipping like billions of packages a day, there’s no way that they’re going to be able to help me. Trying to get a real person on the phone to help me is probably going to be a complete waste of my time.‘. Man, was I way off.

When I called UPS I quickly made it through some voice-activated menu options and hit the standard ‘0′ button that almost always takes you to a real, live and talking human. I was put on hold for a few minutes and then a woman greeted me and asked how she could help me today. I told her all about the situation, how the package was denied delivery, how I’m not going to be able to get my money back and how I am going to feel like a complete Valentine’s Day failure if we can’t figure something out.

Her calm and cool response to all of my rambling was awesome:

Sir, we are always up for doing anything to help spread love around this world of ours and I’m sure that I can help you out — do you have your tracking number?

I gave her my tracking number, she looked it up and told me a little more detail on what had happened with the package and proceeded to apologize for the mix up, which admittedly felt pretty nice at this point. After her explanation I asked if there was any way to speak directly to the driver who was denied the delivery, expecting to be told no. But, to my pleasant surprise she said that there was a way to do it and after asking for my direct number she told me that the driver’s district manager would be calling me in no more than an hour to explain what had happened to the package.

‘Wow’, I thought, ‘this is what I’m talking about’. I told her thanks, hung up and looked at the clock. It was 2:45pm.

At 3:30pm I got a call from the district manager:

Me: Hello?

UPS District Manager: Hello, this is Carl from UPS. I hear that you need some help with a delivery that was denied this morning?

Me: Hey man, great to hear from you — do you have any details on what happened? Why was it denied? I talked to my fiancee’ and she said that no one at her school would ever deny the delivery of flowers, especially on Valentine’s Day. Where did it get denied from?

UPS District Manager: Our driver actually attempted to drop the package off at the hospital’s loading dock, which is right behind the school and they denied it because they do not accept personal deliveries.

Me: So it wasn’t delivered to the school?

UPS District Manager: No sir, it wasn’t and I’m not sure why, but we apologize for the inconvenience. What we can do is ship the package back out to you the first thing Monday morning free of charge or you can come pick it up at the warehouse today anytime after 5:30pm. The warehouse is in Menlo Park, which is about 7 miles away from the original drop-off location.

Me: Well, the Monday thing isn’t going to work, because the package is flowers and they’ll be dead by Monday. But, did you say that I can pick them up in Menlo Park? I was told that it was already being shipped back to Florida or something.

UPS District Manager:
It’s definitely not going back to Florida — it will be in Menlo Park in just a couple of hours if you want to come pick it up.

Me: Awesome! This will work and I’m so happy to hear that I can pick it up. How late is the UPS warehouse open?

UPS District Manager: Open until 9pm.

Me: Sweet — we’ll be there after 5:30pm then, thanks so much for your help and have a great weekend.

UPS District Manager: You too and thanks for using UPS.

So, as you can see, the package wasn’t a lost cause after all and Stephanie picked up her flowers after she got off work on Friday. It’s not as cool as her getting them delivered to her during school, but way better than not having them at all, wasting $40 and having a huge Valentine’s Day fail.


This looks much better…thanks UPS!

Thanks to UPS (and no thanks to 1800Flowers) my Valentine’s Day present was still delivered (picked up) and Stephanie absolutely loves it. Of course, the card that she got me with the Pugs on it is pretty sweet, too. I love how things just seem to work out sometimes, even if it takes 10 phone calls and half a workday for it to happen.


I think that these flowers were worth the hassle, don’t you? Cute Pugs…

Maybe in another post I’ll talk about ways that 1800Flowers could have sucked less in this situation, but it’s Saturday and time to actually celebrate Valentine’s Day so I’ll see you all a little later. Have an awesome weekend!

Go see Slumdog Millionaire as soon as possible

I know, I know…you’ve heard all about Slumdog Millionaire the past few weeks, right? You’re probably nearly getting sick of hearing about it and have no idea how a movie like this could get so many people talking and so much of the world buzzing. Here are just a few of the accolades that Slumdog has already pulled in:

Well, Stephanie and I just got back from watching this magical piece of movie magic and let me tell you that it’s definitely, no doubt in my mind, absolutely one of the best movies that I’ve seen in a looooong time. Go see it and go see it soon.

The story behind our amazing engagement photos (and why it’s good to talk to strangers)

So it all started at IKEA (we love IKEA)…no seriously, it really did start there. About a month or so ago Stephanie and I headed down the street to IKEA so that I could finally buy myself a desk and chair to work on. The couch just wasn’t cutting it anymore and I needed a place to get all of my ‘work away from work’ stuff done. That makes sense, right? It certainly makes sense to me.

OK, back to the story.

So, as Stephanie and I were goofing around on our way out of the last section of maze-like aisles, boxes of products, kids and couples that are always a staple at IKEA, a guy walked up and quickly asked us, ‘Hey, are you two getting married?’. He was an Asian-looking guy with lots of energy and some pretty wild spiked hair that was tamed only by the sunglasses that he had on the top of his head. He caught us both a little bit off guard as we both looked at each other and proceeded to mumble, ‘Well, yeah…actually we are.’ We asked him why he was asking and if he happened to overhear us talking about wedding plans, which he quickly dismissed by saying that we were simply a beautiful couple and he thought that we looked like we should be getting married sometime soon. We took this as a compliment and a really damn good guess and continued to ask him what he was doing randomly talking to complete strangers at IKEA — not that I thought there was anything wrong with that.

We soon found out that his name was Henry Sun and that he’s a guy who has a love for photography and would like to find ways to pursue it full time. This is why he was sneaking around IKEA looking for potential couples who could help him boost his portfolio. After hearing his explanation I have to admit that Henry sounded anything but legit, but with our incredibly optimistic outlooks Stephanie and I quickly decided to swap contact info with him in hopes that one day he might actually take some amazing engagement photos of us.

Well, nearly a month later Henry has invited us over for dinner twice (he’s an AMAZING cook), we have gone to a concert in SF together and last Saturday he took us out on a day-long engagement photo shoot adventure that was one of the most fun days Stephanie and I have ever had in California. In just a month Henry’s gone from being a random stranger with a question at IKEA to a really close and trusted friend. I guess you could say that being optimistic isn’t all that bad after all, eh?


We learned all about Henry the past month. This is him and his daughter, Caeshia.

Like I said, this past Saturday we finally headed out or an engagement photo shoot extravaganza, which resulted in Henry taking nearly 2,500 photos of me and Stephanie all around San Francisco and at Half Moon Bay. Some of the photos are so amazing I really don’t even know how to describe them. As we looked at them the next day I swear that sometimes I would look at the photos and have a hard time believing that it was really us that I was staring at. I guess that means he did a great job, right?

As Henry continues to process the 2,000+ photos, he finished up a couple of them so that we could add them to this blog and to Facebook as a teaser to what else is on the way. The two photos below are the ones that he gave us — I hope this gives you a taste of what the rest of them are like. Like I said, A-MA-ZING.


This was taken in front of a random graffiti wall in a not-so-great section of San Francisco. The people were actually really cool and a couple of them actually thanked me for choosing their neighborhood to shoot our photos in, which I thought was pretty cool.


This was taken at Half Moon Bay beach, which was absolutely freezing. It was the last shoot of the day and we got there right before the sun went down, which made for some really beautiful (and hot) photos. As you’d probably guess, Stephanie’s dad loves this one.

If you want to learn more about Henry’s amazing photo skillz, be sure to check out his website: {h}creatives — tell him Hup and Steph sent ya’. :)